When most of us look at a smartphone, laptop, or most other common household electronics, we see a device that is far too complicated for us to ever build. Yet, anyone can in fact learn how the process of designing and manufacturing electronics works. If this is a hobby you are thinking about getting into, here’s a roadmap for getting started.
Start with the Basics
Whenever you are learning a new subject or skill, it makes the most sense to begin with the easiest parts of it first. Once you have the fundamentals in place, you can then turn your attention to mastering the more difficult parts of the hobby.
When it comes to electronics, you can’t really go too basic. Most people learned about the basics of electricity in school but haven’t had much reason to apply that knowledge in their daily lives. However, while there are lots of things about electricity that we do remember from school, not much of this was taught to us within the context of trying to build our own electronic devices.
Begin Building Circuits
If you have never built a circuit before, you shouldn’t be afraid of getting yourself a basic set of circuitry components, even if it’s aimed at children. You can get circuit building kits for adults as well, and the more you are willing to spend on a kit, the more components will be included. It is up to you how complicated you want your circuits to be.
Most of these kits will include with them instructions on how to build some circuits to get you started, and hopefully you’ll be flying solo before long. However, there are plenty of books and guides available that will teach you how to make more advanced circuits and how to begin to build more complex electronics.
Learn About Microcontrollers
Once you have mastered basic circuitry, the next stage is to look into microcontrollers. You’ve probably heard of the more popular microcontrollers before. The Raspberry Pi is probably the best-known example, but the Arduino has also gained popularity in recent years.
Microcontrollers are miniature computers that can be programmed to do just about anything. Both the Raspberry Pi and Arduino come as simple circuit boards that connect to your computer so you can program them. They are designed to be modular, meaning that you can choose from a plethora of components that all enhance the capabilities of your device in some way.
Taking it to the Next Level
Once you have got to grips with advanced circuits and microcontrollers, you’re just about ready to begin your own experimentation. There are many excellent and welcoming online communities who will help you work out where to go next. You can use Octopart’s component search service to easily find information about and manufacturers of specific components. As you begin to explore the more advanced electronics projects, you will encounter new types of components, not all of which are readily available.
If you have the right motivation and are willing to persevere, you will find the world of electronics both fascinating and accessible. Start small and work your way up. It might not be very exciting at first, but you’ll soon learn. You may even find yourself ordering your own custom PCB boards and getting really serious about it.